Human error works for the greater good in this engaging true tale of an old-growth forest getting the last laugh.
How do you misplace something that was never truly lost? To answer that question, consider the case of the Lost Forty. In 1785 the Continental Congress declared that the United States be surveyed as it expanded, so in 1882, Josiah R. King and his crew surveyed three townships in Minnesota. Yet it wasn’t until 1958 that someone figured out that King had made a mistake. On the maps, King had listed a patch of old-growth forest as part of Coddington Lake. By the time the mistake was detected, loggers had avoided the area and the trees were part of the Chippewa National Forest. (The text falsely implies that this means they are “protected forever,” although logging does take place in national forests.) The book takes care to mention that the survey of Minnesota could only occur after “most of the land had been taken from Native people” because “the government of the United States wanted [it].” Bowen’s art alternates between thick, deep hues and light, winsome watercolors, but an aesthetically jarring typeface mars the overall design. Additional information about old-growth forests and where to find them, as well as the details of surveying, rounds out the book.
An engaging consideration of happy accidents and lucky environmental mistakes. (Informational picture book. 5-9)